Friday, August 16, 2019

ReaditDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 16th August 2019: "The Runaways" by Ulf Stark and Kitty Crowther (Gecko Press)

Our first Book of the Week this week definitely shows what you can do if you break that horrid, horrid rule about '500 or so words' in a children's picture book.

The fabulous "The Runaways" by Ulf Stark and Kitty Crowther might be a lot wordier and longer than your average 'before bed' book, but it's worth investing the extra time and effort in, just because it's such a brilliant and beautiful story.

The story examines the cross-generational relationship between Gottfried Junior and his cantakerous but beloved old Grandfather. As rough as the sea, but becoming more and more frail in his old age, Grandfather suffers a fall one day and ends up in hospital.

Grandfather hates being in hospital, and pleads with his grandson to do one more thing for him before he passes away. One last visit to Grandfather's old house to attend to one or two last things.

How could any grandson resist a plea like that? So the two hatch a grand plan of escape, intricately plotted but superbly clever.

As Grandfather's important tasks unfold, the story takes on a touching turn that will tug at your heartstrings in the emotional finale.

We've long campaigned for picture book and chapter book creators to 'ditch the moralising' but this story shows how you can create something truly magical that has layer upon layer of strong messages we can all identify with, at any age. Thoughts of our own youth and vitality, versus thoughts of our autumn years and our mortality, and the desperate need to 'put our house in order' before we go.

It's just so beautifully written, and of course you don't need us to tell you just how amazing Kitty Crowther's illustrations for Ulf's text are, she's colossally talented and the pencil-like illustrations here are just so deliciously rendered with exquisite detail and feeling.

Can you tell we're totally won over by this?

Sum this book up in a sentence: A truly wonderful and thought-provoking story that shows what you can do when you're given room to stretch your word count, describing every delicious little detail of a grand cross-generational adventure.

"The Runaways" by Ulf Stark and Kitty Crowther is out now, published by Gecko Press (kindly supplied for review).